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US H1B cap nearly filled

On 1 Aug., the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that 47,395 new H1B petitions had already been filed against the fiscal year (FY) 2006 cap. The United States H1B visa is a non-immigrant visa, which allows a US company to employ a foreign individual for up to six years.

This reflects approximately 20,000 filings in the month of July 2005. If new H1B petition filings continue at this rate, the cap is likely to be reached within a few weeks. The H1B cap for regular cases is 65,000 for each fiscal year (October 1 to September 30). However, 6,800 H1Bs are set aside for nationals of Chile and Singapore.

Only 58,200 new H1Bs are available for the general public. Of those, just under 11,000 H1Bs remain for the coming FY2006, which begins October 1, 2005 and ends on September 30, 2006. However, the H1B filings for new H1Bs under the FY2006 quota were permitted as of April 1, 2005, six months in advance of the start date of the FY2006 quota.

In addition to the 65,000 H1B cap, there are 20,000 special cap exemptions for people with U.S. masters' degrees and education beyond a U.S. master's degree. These H1B numbers still are available for both FY2005 and FY2006. About half of the 20,000 allotted for FY2005 have been used to date; while fewer of the FY2006 higher education H1Bs have been used so far, with 7,646 H1B filings either approved or pending.